Democrats have paid a huge political price for having the courage to do the right thing on at least two sensitive issues. That's why it is disturbing to see multiple Democrats -- including U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) -- make recent statements that play into the hands of Republicans on at least one of these issues. The statements -- from Jones, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) -- indicate some Democrats have not learned the lessons of modern history.
What are the two hot-button issues where Democrats (and the country) have suffered because the party did the right thing? One, Dems have supported civil rights for minorities (based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, etc.). Two, they have supported sensible, effective, and constitutional solutions to crime.
Research shows that crime rates tend to spike under Republican presidents and their "fry 'em til their eyes pop out" approach. Exhibit A is this; Crime was far more prevalent under Ronald Reagan than it was under Barack Obama. So how have Republicans managed to paint Democrats as "soft on crime"? For one, an inattentive public has bought the GOP's simplistic, emotional approach to crime. And two, some Democrats have helped sell the right-wing narrative.
How does that happen? Consider our current situation: Some Democrats are all squishy on the crimes of -- get this -- a Republican president. Jones added his voice to that chorus last week when he came out as opposing an impeachment inquiry "right now" of President Donald Trump. From a report at Yellowhammer News:
Senator Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) says contrary to some reports, he is not on the “impeach Donald Trump” bandwagon and to say he is open to it was a “misinterpretation.”
During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Friday, Alabama’s Democratic U.S. Senator said he did not think there should be an impeachment inquiry.
“I’m really glad you asked me that because quite frankly, the Yellowhammer blog consistently misinterprets my positions on a lot of things, which I just ignore,” he said when asked about the possibilities of impeachment. “But they said this week that I was open to something like that, which is really a misinterpretation of a position. I don’t think there ought to be impeachment inquiries right now.”
Why not? Well, Jones does not really say, and he's never been a real Democrat anyway, so his statement might be a play to his right-wing handlers (Rob Riley, Jeff Sessions, Bill Pryor, Bill Canary, etc.) Here is more from Yellowhammer:
The Jefferson County Democrat urged his congressional colleagues on the other side of Capitol Hill to get away from impeachment talk and focus on the Russian interference aspect.
“The House is going to do what they’re going to do. I can’t control that House. I wish they would get away from all the talk about impeachment – talk about doing some oversight, but more importantly, let’s talk about the Russian interference and get to the bottom of it so we can protect our democratic election.”
Translation: Jones wants Trump and Co. to get a free pass for the myriad crimes spelled out in the Mueller Report. Jones is not alone in this approach.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has refused to push for impeachment proceedings, and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) said in an interview on Sunday that progressive frustration with Pelosi is growing. (See video at top of this post.) From the interview with George Karl on ABC's This Week:
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I think every day that passes the pressure to impeach grows and I think that it’s justifiable, I think the evidence continues to come in and I believe that with the president now saying that he is willing to break the law to win re-election, that -- that goes -- that transcends partisanship, it transcends party lines and this is now about the rule of law in the United States of America.
KARL: There’s a new poll out this morning, NBC News that shows significant growth in Democratic support for impeachment. And the -- the survey was done before George's interview. Pelosi, though -- Speaker Pelosi has really held her line on this. How is that flying with progressives?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, you know, I think for me this question has -- should not be about polls, it should not be about elections. I think that -- that impeachment is incredibly serious and this is about the presence and evidence that the president may have committed a crime, in this case more than one. And so I believe that -- that our decision on impeachment should be based in our constitutional responsibilities and duties and not in elections or polling.
That being said, with the increase in polls I think the American people are now recognizing, in -- in a much broader scale, the depth and the severity of the misconduct coming out of the White House and a demand to protect our institutions and protect the rule of law in the United States and -- and at least opening an inquiry into -- into possible misconduct.
AOC absolutely nailed it: This is about the rule of law, which has been eroding every day since we started this blog in June 2007. But even one of AOC's colleagues from New York -- Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee -- remains a blockhead on impeachment. Consider this nonsense from Engel durng an interview last week with CNN's Kate Bolduan:
I don't think we're there yet. Congress will have to grapple with it. Right now, we don't want to do anything that would be looked at as a political move. We want to do something that is looked at as for the benefit of the country. We have to weigh everything. . . . There may be votes to impeach, but not be votes to convict . . . . That's on people's minds. We're in no rush. . . We have to sit down, put our heads together, and figure out what's good for the country. . . . That's the bottom line . . . . If I come to the conclusion that impeachment would be good for the country, I would not hesitate to vote for impeachment. But I just don't think we are right there yet. I want to see consensus. I think Nancy Pelosi is doing the right thing, at the right speed."
What rubbish, on a number of levels:
(1) Nancy Pelosi's timidity on impeachment probably has nothing to do with "what's best for the country" and everything to do with the ties of her husband (Paul Pelosi) to a number of shady business/real estate deals that point to possible insider trading, conflicts of interest, and more. Nancy Pelosi's main concern might be that, if she pushes for impeachment, the Trump Department of Justice will come after her husband.
(2) Eliot Engel says "we're in no rush"? Good God, we have a president who was hand-picked by Russia and Vladimir Putin, and Trump is making one horrible appointment after another, including packing our courts with Federalist Society criminals, but Engel feels no sense of urgency?
(3) How can it be "good for the country" when Democrats to sit on their hands and do nothing in the face of rampant criminality from the White House? How about backing AOC and her stand for the rule of law? Without it, we have no democracy. But, Engel says, the GOP-controlled Senate will not convict Trump of impeachment and remove him from office? How does Engel know that, without seeing what evidence a House inquiry might produce? Even if that proves to be the case, let Republicans worry about the possible political fallout. Let them explain their support for a criminal in the West Wing, especially with polls showing that support for Trump is cratering.
Let Republicans, for once, look like the party that is soft on crime.